Monalisa Stephens is a plus-sized model, body positive advocate, a fashion stylist and designer from Lagos State. The trendy online personality and aspiring actress, who studied Business Administration at the Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti, in this interview by FEMI OGUNTAYO, talks about her personality and career. Excerpts:
You have been getting a lot of audience online recently, what do you think happened and what changed?
Well, let me say I have always been there, I have been talking about body positivity, and I have been talking about fashion too. But I felt there is something in me that I am yet to push out, so I took my content creation serious. I moved away from the normal things I used to do and focused more on skits making, I started working with people, creating contents, so I think that was what happened. People get to see me and see what I do because I started creating contents, though also on body positivity. People see me talking about body positivity and being bold and crazy and doing whatever I want to do. I think that was what pushed me out there because I notice people say, where have you been all this while?
So, how do you feel about all the attention?
It is all nice, all good, I like it. However, sometimes it gets on my nerves, because someone will just send you messages and they expect that you read that message and respond immediately, and maybe I had other things I was doing, and they will be like, oh now, because you think you are this, you are that, you feel you are too big to reply us and all that. So, sometimes these people do not understand. I like the attention though and I am not complaining. On the bad energy too, I am trying to cope, I am trying to be mature and not let it get at me. Though I get both positive and negative reactions and all, but it is fine, I am a very tough person. So sometimes some people come to my page and talk trash, I just see it as fine, it is one of these things and I don’t allow it get to my head.
Would you call yourself an actress?
About me being an actress, I don’t really want to be seen as an actress because of the way people see actresses and all that. I prefer to be referred to as a content creator or a skit maker. People say I am humorous but I don’t know if I am. Well I am an actress, if that is what they want to call me. (Laughs).
Do you have some movies you have featured in recently?
Yes, I have worked on a couple of movie projects and I had to decline one because it was a fitness movie and it wasn’t really talking nice about the plus-sized women so I had to decline that stylishly.
How would you describe your growing up?
Growing up for me was not that cool. I am someone that always keeps to myself, I am always on my own, I don’t really have friends, I walk most times with boys. My mum used to complain like why are you always moving with only boys and all that, my childhood was nice, I had a memorable childhood, though somehow boring because I lost my dad when I was like one year old. So it has been me and my mother and my siblings.
Some people call ladies of your size, plus-sized, while some simply say ‘fat’, which do you prefer to be called, because some feel insulted when they are called ‘fat’?
Yes, I prefer to be called fat. I always tell people that ‘fat’ is not an insult. So I don’t know why you should be offended because someone called you fat. It is just like saying this lady is slim or she is thin, I can say this man is short or that man is tall. So, I think the word ‘fat’ is just to describe you, it is not an insult. Even if you go to my social media page, you will see it there; the first thing you will see is ‘Fat’, so it is not an insult to me. You don’t need to sugarcoat it or trying to use plus-sized or plump, curvy or whatever. Call me fat, because I am fat.
There was a time you made a post that some people think fat girls can’t get a man, how would you describe your romance and love life?
Some people believe that because you are fat, you cannot get a man or no man is talking to you. I find that disturbing because, majority of we African women, we are made curvy and thick. So, why won’t we have a man? It is crazy, that assumption is mad. So, my romance and love life has been great. I have never had problem with men in my life; because I always have them in surplus. How is it hard to get a man? There was a post I saw recently and the girl was having an affair with her friend’s man. So I commented and wrote, when we have millions of men out there, you still chose your friend’s man and some guy replied that, how do you know that? That men are scarce and all that. For me, men are not scarce, they are everywhere for me o, so I have never had problem with men and my love life is great, just like any woman would have it.
What is your type of man?
I think nobody is perfect, for me if a man can respect me, treat me right and support my dreams and whatever I want to do, I think I am okay with that. Respect is very important. I am not the type that really looks at the outward appearance, I like older men, but unfortunately (laughs) I always get guys around my age group or a bit older than me, although I like older men. My man must be very clean and mature. Maturity is very important, because I am a very crazy person, sometimes I do things even me don’t expect me to do. So, my man must be mature, must have a good heart, the fear of God and just be nice.
Are there upcoming projects from you or your brand?
I have a lot of programmes I am working on right now. I have a clothing line already. I am working on a show on body positivity and I have booth camp which is on hold because of Coronavirus pandemic. So, the public should expect new things from me.
Which would you describe as your most memorable moment
Let me start with the painful memorable moments, which was the day I lost my mum, it was a painful day for me, which I will never forget. But then, talking about my happiest moments, the day I showcased my fashion line on fashion week at Oriental, Hotel Lagos, it was a big one for me and I was happy.